Why do people choose Classical Conversations—at the overwhelming rate at which they have? (125,000 students!) I can’t answer the whole of that question, but I can for my small family. The reason I chose it for my kids is almost kind of silly and too simple.
What draws some people doesn’t matter one iota to the next person who also chose Classical Conversations (CC). I find the stories of others fascinating for their differences and variety.
For us, the fact that we would homeschool was not even on the horizon when I was a mother with two young boys. But even back then, when I wasn’t even considering it, I began hearing about CC.
When my boys were both under the age of three, I went to a Christmas party with an old high school friend. While there, I met a woman who mentioned that she homeschooled, told me the name of CC, but all I came away knowing about it was that it existed and that her daughter could sing a song about Charlemagne.
But shortly thereafter, one of my best friends in childhood mentioned that in the state she’d moved to, many people at her church homeschooled using CC. Again, I just heard the name, but really nothing about it, other than its popularity. This kind of exposure to the name happened two or three more time in my kids’ preschool years. (And I know, from the land of marketing, that just the repetition of the name is an effective strategy in sales!)
But in all this time, I was not considering homeschooling, and I was pro-school, to a degree, because I was a licensed teacher myself. (And to the degree to which I had reservations about schools was also because I was a licensed teacher…)
When my district discontinued half-day kindergarten and went to only all-day K, I began considering homeschool. (That was the start, but there were 8 Reasons Why I Started Homeschooling.) When I started homeschooling my son for kindergarten, the many-times-mentioned CC group came to mind.
I started homeschooling when I was pregnant with another baby, and in November of that fall, I contacted my local CC group to arrange a visit. I was doing kindergarten at home and without a group for community because my baby was due around Christmas. I had every intention of just staying home and taking the kindergarten year slow and easy.
But I knew I wanted to join a group for my son’s first grade year because I believed strongly that we needed community—my son needed friends and I too needed to be around like-minded parents, for accountability and encouragement. Parenting babies and toddlers was such a solitary life as it was; I lived for bi-monthly meetings of moms’ groups!
So, when I took my five-year-old boy to a CC campus to visit for a day, I went because I was looking for community. I knew other parents found value in the classes. I knew parents had full control of the literacy and math programs; what the CC program offered was foundational and yet also supplemental, and my chosen curriculum for/pace of reading instruction couldn’t conflict with the CC classes for my little guy. (This was extremely paramount for me; a co-op or group that did not feature that parental autonomy would have presented a deal-breaker for me.)
Did I know what Classical model offered? No. Did I know what “classical” meant as an educational philosophy? No, except for a vague idea that it was derived somehow from ancient Rome and Greece.
It may seem odd that a licensed educator with a master’s degree in education would 1) not know what the classical model was (no—not surprising because modern education doesn’t value that model) or 2) consider a program without investigating its philosophy. I am partially surprised myself, in retrospect. However, my thought process at the time was: this is merely one morning a week, and its philosophy doesn’t have to match what I do at home the rest of the week as long as it doesn’t conflict and it fills the need for which I am searching: social connection.
If my eldest son felt comfortable when we visited the local CC campus and wanted to go, then we’d join. If not, I’d planned visit other local co-ops in the area. Simple.
Well, to my surprise, when my son walked into a classroom of eight children and found two friends he knew from somewhere else, his comfort level was instantly established. As he engaged in the activities of the day (which I recall quite clearly involved dissecting an owl pellet and excavating tiny shrew bones, which he had to take home in a little baggie), his desire to return was secure.
We enrolled in Classical Conversations for the following year.
We arrived at CC because of repeated word of mouth exposure and because the community was warm, welcoming and appealing to my son. At the time, it did not seem like the biggest decision that affected our homeschooling greatly. To me, it seemed a tiny part of our homeschooling.
So that was how we got to CC. But why did we stay? That’s another story…to be continued in… Why We Stayed with Classical Conversations.